Thursday, September 9, 2010


Last night, I had dinner with a friend. We had one of those waiters that really gets into the whole experience of being a server at this particular restaurant...complete with an Australian accent and pieces of "flair" that he wears on his shirt like medals of valor bestowed upon him for past customer service excellence. I always like to see someone all gung-ho about their job...because I know I've had my fill of the trolls who hate theirs that I seem to encounter more frequently than the general population. He will be getting more flair somewhere down the road, because I certainly intend to send in the customer service survey online later today. Oh, I'm not totally doing it to be nice...they are offering a free Bloomin' Onion for doing it, and heaven knows...we can't leave that on the table.

Even if I have absolutely no business eating said Bloomin' Onion in this lifetime. I like free stuff.

My friend started discussing her life in general right now...job woes, blood pressure that refuses to come down, and her concern about one of her sons and who he is dating. Standard fare for Moms as we gather. Sadly, her first two problems seem she is trying to deal with a boss who gives the term "overbearing" new meaning. One of those people who is more concerned about money than he is the people he has employed. Who goes to church, but somehow misses the message. Who suspects his employees of everything instead of assuming that they have his best interests at heart. Who wants total loyalty, but does absolutely nothing to engender it.

I know that everyone has difficult people that they encounter in life. I know that I have run up on more than my share - especially lately. We know that life isn't fair from the time we are in kindergarten...but we don't understand why some people go out of their way to be Philistines just because they can.

Wouldn't life be a lot easier if our commitment to excellent service of others was reflected in wearing pieces of flair so that people would know what they are getting into right off the bat? I mean, I knew that I had an excellent waiter, because he was "highly decorated." In the military, there's a chain of command and they have a pattern of rewarding particular acts of valor, commitment, and bravery. But for the general population, we are left to figure out what we are dealing with as we encounter it on our own.

And sometimes we are way off base.

We look at the kid with the piercings and tattoos and automatically make an assessment. We see a mother with biracial children and we draw a conclusion. We look at the people in the big houses and fancy cars and assume something else. We are trained to avoid certain things in life...and to consider other things better or worse than ourselves or our situation. And in so doing...we are closing our eyes to the potential that we don't have the entire story.

That the kid with the piercings and tattoos is an engineering student that plays in a band on the weekends to make his way debt free through college. That the mother we saw adopted her baby from a friend who died prematurely as an act of love or couldn't conceive on her own. That the big house is one month from repossession and the car isn't far behind.

Wouldn't it be nice to know that you could go to work and be excited to be part of an organization that you know values you personally, and doesn't send your blood pressure through the roof? I know my friend would.

Truth be told...we are all walking around advertising something. It might be that we love our bodies, or that we don't. It may be that we are conservative...or not so much. It may be that our sense of style is evident...or our lack thereof is center stage. That we aren't afraid of aging...or that we are going down fighting. I often laugh when I see a particularly outdated or unusual presentation of self and I think...apparently they passed a mirror today and said, "Yep, I'm good with that look." I mean, I gave up "wings" in 1980, but that doesn't mean that everyone got the memo. And frankly, that's really okay.

So, if you are a boss today, assume that the people who are working for you aren't trying to take advantage of you, and do something radical like find something to compliment about their performance. If you see someone out there that you find you are judging, take a moment and try to imagine that what you are seeing might not be the entire picture. I mean, this economy has been a great equalizer. And if you are headed to work...imagine that everything you do might result in getting a piece of flair for you to display proudly.

After all, you can never have too much flair. My waiter friend taught me that.

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